This House Guest may be Stealing your Life. Take it Back!

shutterstock_173796380Years ago I invited a guest into my home who began to affect my most valued relationships almost from the beginning.  He was handsome, a novelty and a little old fashioned.  He was a square…  box that is.

Over the years his appearance changed from square to flat. He became noisier, more colorful, and grew in influence.  From morning until night he blathered about everything.

In the beginning his opinions and behavior were limited, but slowly he morphed from being educational and entertaining, to providing offerings that ranged from banal to disgustingly immoral.  He has stolen much of our lives. Here’s how you can get it back.

I think you know who my guest was.  But in case you missed it, review these statistics from Statistic Brain

  • The average American spends over 5 hrs watching television every day.
  • The average American youth will spend 900 hours in school.
  • The average American youth watches television – 1,200 hrs
  • Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18 – 150,000
  • Number of 30 second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child – 16,000
  • The average amount time a person will have spent watching TV in a lifetime 9 years

Statistic Brain research also shows that almost 50 percent of Americans believe they watch too much TV.  Time that was once devoted to games, reading, and conversation is often spent staring at the TV.  Decisions about visiting with friends or going out to dinner are made in relation to what is on TV that night.

Here are a few suggestions that might help you reclaim your life.

1.  Recognize the overwhelmingly negative messages presented on television and make conscious choices about what you will watch.  From the negative influence of the news to the frequency of violent images, from sexually explicit programing to, perhaps most insidious, the subtle (and often blatant) messages that stand in direct opposition to the faith, moral values and character issues we are trying to teach our children and grandchildren.   Not all programming is bad, but we should be wise in choosing both what we watch and what we allow our children to watch.

2.  Put the television in a less prominent place in the home.  I once suggested moving it to the top floor of the house and then throwing it out the window.  Now I advocate controlling it rather than destroying it.

3.  Have specific times for watching television.  Record the programs that are worth watching and watch them on your time, not the time chosen by the networks.  Too often a family sits down to dinner without saying a word to one another as they watch TV silently and mindlessly until it is time for bed.

Couples spend hours apart as one goes to bed and the other stays up till the wee hours continuing to vegetate.

When I was a boy and television was new, I would often watch until programming stopped.  Hanging in there till the last strains of the Star Spangled Banner died away and then staying just a bit longer to stare at the test pattern and listen to the hiss of emptiness.

4.  Choose to LIVE instead of watching other people “pretend to live.”  As Joan Rivers would say, “Reality TV is about as real as my face.”

I will never forget hearing in the distance a little voice,  “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!  There was a tug on my sleeve that made me realize this wasn’t a distant voice, it was my princess trying to get my attention. “What is it?” I said gruffly without taking my eyes from the television.  After all, Charlie’s Angels were in trouble.  Her next words penetrated to my soul.  “Never mind.” the disappointed, tiny voice whispered,  as she turned to walk away.  I scooped her up and apologized for allowing anything to be more important than listening to what she wanted to say.  Occasionally I still find myself doing this with people I love. I need to constantly be vigilant.  Am I the only one?

  • Think of the things you could accomplish with 5 hours every day.
  • Think about the positive memories and relationships you could create with 9 years of your life.
  • Think about the many alternatives of positive input that outweigh the passive nature of watching television.

The bottom line is this:  If you don’t set rules for this house guest called television it will rule you and your life.

How do you control TV in your home?
What positive things have you found on TV?